The life val­ues within your ca­reer & moth­er­hood

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Dr Suzanne Hen­wood & An­wen Robin­son

You have worked hard to get to where you are. You have stud­ied and put in the hours, you have over­come ob­sta­cles and glass ceil­ings. Your ca­reer mat­ters to you. Then you have a baby. Whether or not your preg­nancy was planned, hav­ing a baby is a sig­nif­i­cant iden­tity shift. You stop be­ing just you and be­come some­one’s mum. Un­like any other time in your life, the ar­rival of a baby doesn’t al­low you to re­vert to your ‘nor­mal’ life. This can leave you feel­ing trapped, at a loss and lonely. It can take some deep ad­just­ing to a new life. In this ar­ti­cle we ex­plore the re­la­tion­ship be­tween our gut, heart and brain to make sense of the in­ter­nal con­flict and of­fer a sim­ple ex­er­cise to help you find ful­fil­ment in your new chap­ter, from ca­reer woman to moth­er­hood. Our sense of self is lo­cated in our ‘gut brains’ dis­cussed by Soos­alu and Oka in their book mBrain­ing. We are not talk­ing about your head-based story of who you are - your ego, but that deep sense of who you are at your core. When this deep sense of self change in any sig­nif­i­cant way, that change may not then be in align­ment with the head-based iden­tity of who you think you should be or who so­ci­ety is telling you to be. It may not be aligned with your ‘heart brain’ - what is truly im­por­tant to you. This can cause in­ter­nal con­flict and may re­quire you to then work out, ‘who am I now?’ It is im­por­tant to know that ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this is com­pletely nor­mal - par­tic­u­larly after a sig­nif­i­cant event, like hav­ing a baby. By

re­flect­ing on the changes at iden­tity level, it’s pos­si­ble to min­i­mize this and move on more quickly to a new, aligned iden­tity.


An ef­fec­tive start­ing point is to map your heart-based val­ues – that is, the things that are im­por­tant to you. This can be done by an­swer­ing one sim­ple ques­tion:

WHAT IS IM­POR­TANT TO ME ABOUT...? 1. Start with your ca­reer:

• What is im­por­tant to you about your ca­reer/job/vo­ca­tion.

• Write down what­ever words come to mind. For ex­am­ple, you might write val­ues such as:

This list is not ex­haus­tive – just keep ask­ing your­self, ‘what else?’ un­til no more words come to mind. You can test your list by ask­ing your­self, ‘If I had all of that – what would make me want to leave?’ This may gen­er­ate another few words.

2. Now ask your­self the same ques­tion about moth­er­hood/be­ing a mum:

• Us­ing a fresh sheet of pa­per write down your thoughts on ‘What is im­por­tant to me about moth­er­hood?’

• Your val­ues which are con­tex­tual, are likely to be quite dif­fer­ent, al­though some may be du­pli­cated.

• Your core val­ues may not be the first to come up, so keep ask­ing ‘what else?’ Ex­am­ples here might in­clude:

3. Next cre­ate two lists and for each list ask your­self:

• ‘If I could have only ONE of those – which value is THE MOST im­por­tant?’

• ‘If you could have TWO – which value would you add to that list?’

• Keep go­ing un­til you have two new lists, each con­tain­ing your top eight val­ues. Eighty per­cent of your mo­ti­va­tion in any con­text comes from your top five val­ues. So, it’s im­por­tant to be aware of your val­ues and to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that stim­u­lates them. Now it’s time to re­flect on your val­ues and put your lists to work. For each list con­sider:

• Which val­ues are be­ing met? Is there bal­ance or is it one-sided?

• What val­ues would you like more of?

• Are there val­ues that ap­pear in both lists? It may be th­ese are your core val­ues which go across con­texts. Are they be­ing met?

• Do any val­ues clash or con­flict? If so, can you find a value that al­lows you to have both? Or are you will­ing to com­pro­mise any­where? Tak­ing time to be aware of your val­ues and any po­ten­tial con­flicts can help you to ex­plore and un­der­stand the iden­tity shift you have ex­pe­ri­enced. It can also help you to plan how you can re-in­tro­duce op­por­tu­ni­ties that stim­u­late your val­ues and keep you mo­ti­vated. It is ab­so­lutely pos­si­ble to have a ca­reer and be a great mum – but it is wise to take time out to ex­plore the iden­tity shift and to en­sure you meet your needs in both ar­eas as you move for­ward into the new phase of your life. Over time you may find some of your val­ues shift again, so we rec­om­mend re­view­ing your val­ues an­nu­ally as your chil­dren grow, as your ca­reer de­vel­ops and as you cre­ate and evolve your new thriv­ing iden­tity, from ca­reer woman to moth­er­hood.

Dr Suzanne Hen­wood is the Di­rec­tor and Lead Coach and Trainer of mBrain­ing4Suc­cess. She is also the CEO of The Healthy Work­place and a Mas­ter Trainer and Mas­ter Coach of mBIT (Mul­ti­ple Brain In­te­gra­tion Tech­niques) and can be con­tacted via her web­site.

An­wen Robin­son is the founder of Ca­reerMum; a so­cial en­ter­prise that recog­nises the chal­lenges faced by women after hav­ing chil­dren, and the need to im­prove the work­place ex­pe­ri­ences of mums. Read more at­

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